And meanwhile the Iranians do what?
Eat Kebap and watch the fireworks?
http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/s...lities-part-1/Inbound: Part 1 of a scenario for the first Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear weapons program
The Eitans take off first. They’re the slowest, only 220 knots flat out, and for best endurance, they’ll cruise at 180 knots. It’s 800 miles to their stations, just outside the range of Iranian air defense radar, south of the Saudi coast of the Persian Gulf.
Operated by the 210th Squadron of the Israeli Air Force at Tel Nof airbase, the Eitan (Hebrew for “steadfast”) is a big UAV, with a twenty-six meter wingspan. It has a reduced radar signature, although it’s probably not stealthy. It can carry different payloads: EO/IR imagers, synthetic aperture radar, ELINT or COMINT gear.
The two aircraft taking off now, at H-minus six hours, will relieve two already on station over Saudi airspace. Those birds carried ELINT and COMINT gear, monitoring Iranian radar and communications. At this point, there should be no surprises, but they’ll keep watch all the same.
The four-and-a-half hour flight there barely dents the Eitan’s twenty-four hour endurance. On-board satellite communications allow controllers to monitor the relief and make sure both new aircraft are good to go.
The tankers have to take off early as well. The refuel point, “Delek Station,” is located just short of the IP, over Saudi territory, but close to the coast.
The Shavit Special Electronic Missions Aircraft (SEMA), based on a Gulfstream business jet, would likely be an integral part of any attack.
The Saudis, like all the Persian Gulf nations, do not want the Iranians to have nuclear weapons, but they lack the ability to physically stop development. If the Iranians get close to actually assembling a bomb, the Saudis might agree to an Israeli campaign to destroy their nuclear program, especially if the Israelis offer a significant political concession as part of the deal.
That agreement allows the Israelis to operate freely over their “associate’s” territory without the risk of being intercepted, or even reported. A reasonable, if inconvenient Saudi proviso is that Israeli aircraft cannot operate from Saudi bases.
The first Israeli raid is a big one, four squadrons, and will need eight of Israel’s nine Boeing 707 tankers to refuel it. The ninth one was only purchased in 2010, a Boeing 707 airframe converted by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). They will be wheels-up from Nevatim airbase at H-minus four hours.
Next to take off, at H-minus three hours, is a single Shavit aircraft, also flying from Nevatim. The 120th Nachson (‘Pioneer”) squadron operates the Shavit (“Comet”) Special Electronics Mission aircraft. That uninformative title describes a Gulfstream G550 business jet converted by IAI to carry SIGINT and ELINT gear, a communications suite, and space for a command staff. It can monitor and control the Eitan UAVs launched earlier, as well as all the aircraft involved in the raid.
At 480 knots, the Shavit will be on station in two hours, but the raid commander is already working – tracking the strikers’ preparations and probably holding the hands of some nervous government officials.
It will also make the first offensive move in the Israeli attack on Iran. The “special mission” in its name comes from the ability to make Suter attacks. The term “Suter” comes from a United States program called Senior Suter, which is in turn part of another program called Big Safari, which is all about attacking an enemy’s information systems.
By feeding Iranian radar and communications antennas false data, the electronic attackers create fake contacts, delete real ones, insert false instructions, and possibly even crash the entire air defense network. At a minimum, a successful Suter attack allows the Israelis to see the status of the Iranian air defenses.
It’s a Jedi mind trick, cyber-style: “These aren’t the planes you’re looking for.” If the Israelis do their jobs really well, the Iranians won’t even know they’re being hacked until it’s too late.
Since the Shavit can monitor Iranian radar and communications directly, the two Eitan UAVs carry a different payload: electronics designed to support the intrusion effort by either locat*ing emitters or transmitting signals at close range, without risking the Shavit directly.
The strikers, four squadrons of F-16I Sufas, take off half an hour after the Shavit. Slowed by ordnance and drop tanks, they cruise at 520 knots. It takes them an hour and a half to reach Delek Station, then half an hour to refuel. Because the target is just over 1,100 nautical miles (nm) away, the Sufas cannot carry a full load of ordnance – just two SPICE 2000 PGMs, as well as three drop tanks, targeting and navigation pods on the inlet stations, and two AIM-120 AMRAAMs on the wingtips.
Unlike most countries, Israeli squadrons have 24 planes instead of 12, so this first raid in the Israeli campaign will be sending 96 aircraft into Iranian airspace.
They aren’t all strikers. As insurance, in case the Suter attack is not completely effective, eight F-16s are armed with HARM missiles, decoys, and cluster munitions. They will suppress the enemy defenses in the general area, knocking out radars, command centers, and SAM batteries that could threaten the incoming raid. If the Suter attack is effective, they will either accompany the raid all the way to the target or perhaps prepare the way for the second attack tomorrow.
Another eight Sufas are dedicated fighter escorts. Instead of PGMs, they each carry four AMRAAMs and two Python 5 AAMs. With a range of 44 nautical miles, the AIM-120C-5 missiles they carry outrange everything in the Iranian inventory. They’re not as good as the “D” model AMRAAM (60 nm) used by the U.S., but the best the Iranians can put up is the Russian-made R-27R [AA-10 Alamo] with a range of 29 nm. With luck, the escort fighters won’t even have to use afterburner, which would be a good thing so far from home.
Finally, eight F-16s will be assigned to suppress the local defenses at the target. They also carry HARM missiles and a Sky Shield Jamming pod. Thanks to electronic reconnaissance, the Israelis know which SAMs are operating near the target and what their operating patterns are.
Of the 96 fighters, 72 will carry ordnance, while another twenty-four support and protect the rest. Altogether, the raid will be able to bring 144 precision-guided munitions to the target.
Last edited by Surenas; 07-16-2012 at 07:48 AM.
And meanwhile the Iranians do what?
Eat Kebap and watch the fireworks?
Israelís First Strike on Iranís Nuclear Facilities Ė Part 2
The Strike: Part 2 of a scenario for the first Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear weapons program
In the first part of this series, we described the strike package of fighters and supporting aircraft making the first attack in Israelís air campaign against the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Where are they going? Isfahan. Why not Natanz? After all, thatís the famous, underground, heavily defended uranium enrichment facility thatís always in the news.
The Iranians are pursuing two paths to a nuclear weapon: The uranium route and the plutonium route. Natanz, Fordow, and possibly other enrichment facilities are on the uranium path, increasing the concentration of U235 to weapons grade levels. The Arak nuclear reactor (still not operational) will serve as a source for the plutonium option.
But there are several steps on either path. Yellowcake uranium must be converted to uranium hexaflouride gas (UF6) that the centrifuges can use, and the enriched gas must then be processed to uranium metal to be fabricated into bomb components. The Arak reactor uses fuel made from uranium dioxide (UO2). After it has been used in the reactor, the spent fuel must be chemically treated to extract the Pu238. All of these processes are performed at one place: Isfahan.
Google Map of the facilities at Isfahan and the surrounding area, illustrating the need for precision munitions.
The complex at Isfahan is made up of three facilities vital to nuclear weapons development: The Uranium Conversion Facility, where yellowcake is processed to UF6 and UO2, the Fuel Manufacturing Plant, where UO2 is converted to reactor fuel, and the Zirconium Processing Plant. This not only provides zirconium used by the Fuel Manufacturing Plant, it specializes in refining, smelting, and machining exotic metals. It would extract the uranium or plutonium and make it into bomb components.
These three industrial-level installations are located next to each other, are completely exposed (nothing buried, no concrete roofs), and have only half or a third of the defenses present at Natanz. Hitting Natanz first is a ďsucker play.Ē
The Isfahan defenses include an elderly S-200 (SA-5 Gammon) site nearby, two I-Hawk batteries about a dozen kilometers to the west and north, a Tor-M1 (SA-15 Gauntlet) battery, and a mix of 35mm and 23mm guns.
There are thirty-one structures at the three facilities that are worth bombing. Most need to be serviced with two or three bombs to be completely destroyed, and the raid has one hundred and forty-four weapons. That sounds like overkill, but even PGMs donít work every time. Against targets of this size, they have an 80 percent chance of hitting, so four per target is not out of line.
During the transit, the F-16s are electronically silent. When they reach Delek Station, they refuel silently as well. Itís not easy, but possible with proper training.
By the time the raiders finish refueling, the commander on the Shavit will have executed his Suter attack. If it goes well, he can shut down some or all of the SAM and radar sites along the raidís path. Or he can order the raid to abort, if the defenses have somehow been alerted.
After they leave the refueling point, the raiders cross the Saudi coast. The defense suppressors, hitting targets up to fifty miles away from the raidís path, break off from the main raid now. Theyíll execute their part of the mission, then return home on their own. The fighter escorts fan out as well, radars still off but in position so that they can get their shots before any interceptors are in range of the strikers.
The raiders now descend to stay below the horizon of the Iranian radars. Whether or not the Suter attack has been successful, if Iranian radar doesnĎt see them, the Iranians wonít react.
Thereís a temptation to go to full military power, to minimize the time they spend in Iranian airspace, but full military triples their fuel consumption, for a speed increase of 130 knots, or just 25 percent. The Sufas canít go supersonic with their ordnance and drop tanks, and low altitude does enough damage to their fuel consumption. Besides, since the Shavit is listening in, the Israelis will know about any detections as soon as the Iranians do.
Flying at a few hundred feet above ground level, their radars are still off. Their fighter escort is a little higher, flanking them on each side. The route is mostly scrubby desert, rising from sea level near the coast to about two thousand meters inland. A series of ridgelines lays perpendicular to their path, a low part of the Zagros mountain chain. Itís sparsely settled, and there are few lights at night marking the landscape.
Itís three hundred nautical miles from the Delek Station to Isfahan, or about thirty-five minutesí flight time. During this time, the Iranians will begin to suffer cyber attacks and diversionary raids. For instance, powered decoys are launched in the direction of Tehran. The goal is to confuse and distract.
At seventy miles and ten minutes from the target, and cued by the Shavit, the close-in defense suppressors climb until theyíre above the Iranian radar horizon. They may or may not be visible to Iranian radar, but it doesnít matter. They loft HARM antiradar missiles pretuned to the Iranian radarsí frequencies. Any radiating surveillance or fire control radar will collect one or two missiles. Planes that have fired all their HARMs join the fighter escort. Those that still have HARMs orbit on electronic overwatch.
The HARMs hit two minutes later, and if the defenders werenít awake before, they are now. It takes a few minutes for the gun crews to fully man their weapons, but they put up a storm of fire. Few of the 35mm guns are (or were) radar-guided, and none of the 23mm are. All they can do is shoot into their assigned zone and hope somebody flies through it.
The strikers never get close to the guns. Theyíre already climbing. This is the only time since takeoff theyíve used full military power, to gain speed and altitude as they zoom to medium altitude. Guided by their nav systems and cued by their HUDs, wave after wave of Israeli pilots release their weapons, lofting them toward the target, then pull back on the stick in a precise Immelman turn, rolling level onto an outbound course. The lob-toss delivery is the optimal method for delivering GPS-guided ordnance. Without coming closer than twelve miles to the target, the entire strike is outbound before their bombs even reach the target.
There are four Tor-M1 vehicles protecting Isfahan, each with its own search and fire control radars and eight Gauntlet missiles. When the guns start firing, the crews light off their radars, and theyíre on line in seconds. Electronically netted though a battery command vehicle, they can cooperate to make sure they donít engage the same targets.
The Israelis detect the signals, but by the time they launch their HARMs, all four SAM vehicles are firing.
The Tor missile only has a range of six nautical miles, but they arenít after the retreating Israeli aircraft, or even the defense suppression planes, orbiting safely out of range. The Torís radar is good enough to spot and engage the incoming PGMs. Each vehicle can shoot at two targets at once, and they devote one guidance channel to the incoming HARMs and the other to the PGMs. Two manage to shoot down the HARMs coming at them, and one of the remaining two HARMs misses. One vehicle is lost, but the first thirty-second exchange of fire has allowed the Tor battery to destroy three of the PGMs.
Like they should have done in the first salvo, the Israelis now fire two HARMs at each remaining launcher, killing all three vehicles, but several more PGMs are also gone.
Outbound and clear of the defenses, the raid begins the hour and a half flight back to base. Theyíre up at high altitude now, for best fuel efficiency. Theyíre almost in the clear, but the Iranians have prepared a going-away party.
Did we win ?
Whatever happens, I pray to God the US don't get involved. Let Israel fight her own wars.
The analysis is OK, but its just dealing with the first layer. In deeper layers suddendly hacking or jamming iranian IADS becomes much harder, Iranian fighters suddenly a real threat, HARMs just of limited use, some iranian radars will have always the picture, iranian AAA systems more useful than they think and so on.
Israelís First Strike on Iranís Nuclear Facilities Ė Part 3
Outbound and aftermath: Part 3 of a scenario for the first Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear weapons program
In the first and second parts of this series, we described the strike package of fighters and supporting aircraft making the first attack in Israelís air campaign against the Iranian nuclear weapons program. With their weapons delivered, the Israelis must now get safely out of Iranian territory.
Word of the Israeli attack on Iranís nuclear facilities only reached the fighter squadrons as the bombs were falling. Four air bases are in position to intercept the outbound strike: Tactical Airbase (TAB) 4 at Vahdati, TAB 5 at Omidiyeh, TAB 6 at Bushehr, and TAB 7 at Shiraz.
The alert birds at Vahdati are a pair of F-5Es detailed from one the three squadrons based there. Omidiyeh has three F-7 squadrons (Chinese MiG-21 clones), but they are Iranian Republican Guard Corps (IRGC), with no air-to-air training. They launch the alert planes anyway. Theyíre still fighter pilots, after all. Shiraz is no help. It only has one abbreviated squadron of F-5s, and none of them are on alert.
Bushehr, on Iranís southern coast, has the best chance, launching two pairs of alert F-4s and an F-14 ďPersian Cat.Ē The F-14 is carrying Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles for self-defense, but the back-seaterís main role is as a fighter intercept controller.
An Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Grumman F-14A Tomcat. Delivered at the time the Shah was still in power, Iran still has a number of the 79 original Tomcats in operation, more as mini-AWACS than as air to air fighters. The Tomcatís aging AWG-9 radar remains Iranís most powerful air to air sensor. Photo by Shahram Sharifi
The Iranians still have only the vaguest idea where the strike is heading, probably to the south-southwest, and the F-14ís job is to find it using its AWG-9 radar. Thirty-six years after being delivered to the Shahís Iran, the F-14ís radar is still the most powerful sensor in the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force.
The silenced Iranian radars now work against Israel as well as Iran. The Israeli eavesdroppers know where interceptors have taken off from, and they can listen to voice reports from the Iranian pilots, but they donít know the exact positions of the hostile fighters. In a dark sky, flying at 500 Ė 600 knots, both sides are blindly groping for the other.
The Israeli raid commander can see the signal from the F-14ís AWG-9, and immediately vectors a pair of the fighter escorts to shoot it down, but itís too late. The Tomcat has spotted the outbound Israeli raid and broadcast its location, course, and speed to the interceptors, who immediately adjust their course. The F-14 driver then immediately shuts down his radar and repositions southwest at full military. Heíll set up for another look in a few minutes.
The jig is up, as far as the Israeli commanderís concerned. Thereís no point in concealment, and he orders all fighter escorts and defense suppression aircraft to energize their radars. Sixteen fighters ranged on either side of the outbound strikers immediately sweep the airspace. The F-5s and F-7s, both only armed with IR-homing missiles, are spotted and killed well out of range.
The Bushehr F-4s use a ďhigh-lowĒ tactic, and while the upper pair is quickly found and killed, again outside of range, the lower pair, on burner, gets close enough to each launch a pair of Sparrow missiles at the strikers. The four elderly Sparrow missiles are met with a wall of chaff and jamming, and the second pair of F-4s, committed to guide the Sparrows in, are destroyed, rendering their missiles useless.
The rest of the trip back to base is uneventful, and all aircraft land safely.
This hypothetical account is based on the research, design, and gameplay involved in developing Persian Incursion, a wargame published by Clash of Arms in 2010 and written by Chris Carlson, Jeff Dougherty, and myself. It details both Israeli and Iranian military capabilities in an extended air campaign intended to destroy Iranís nuclear weapons program. During the design and gameplay, we did our best to reproduce the tactics and techniques each side would use. There are several important points that we came away with, and that appear in this account:
* There can be no Israeli campaign without an arrangement with one of three countries that lie between Israel and Iran. The government of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or Iraq must explicitly, if secretly, give the Israelis permission to use their airspace for a period as long as a week. This involves not just the airstrikes, but pre-and post-strike reconnaissance missions, tanker flights, and potentially damaged aircraft and rescue missions.
* The Israeli Air Force outclasses the Iranian Air Force and Air Defense Forces (a separate service). They have better equipment and better training. Theyíre not just a little better, theyíre a lot better.
* In the end, the military outcome doesnít matter. In the narrative above, I didnít bother resolving the attack, because those PGMs are really aimed at the minds of the Iranian leadership. To win this campaign, not against a physical enemy but Iranian intentions, the Israelis must demonstrate the ability to not just destroy one installation, but all of them. Easily. With little or no loss.
Those hundred-plus PGMs will almost certainly blow to oblivion the three nuclear facilities at Isfahan, but what will the Iranian Supreme Leader think when he looks at the destruction? Will he conclude that thereís no future in an Iranian nuclear bomb program, or will he just start rebuilding?
And what will he think tomorrow, when a second raid destroys the reactor and heavy water plant at Arak?
And the day after that?
Israelís First Strike on Iranís Nuclear Facilities
This novel is way more optimistic than what success the US commanders would cautiously admit that their own armed forces are capable of.
To each his own, I guess.